“Why would anyone pay for an online training course when there’s so much free training content already available online?” This was a question we were often asked when we first told people that we planned to develop online courses to support Accounting students.
On the surface this seems like a very valid question. A simple search on Google for ACCA or CIMA or CPA help will provide many thousands of hits of many tutors presenting course content in various formats.
But there exactly lies the answer to the question….there is a significant difference between training content and a training course.
While there’s no doubt that there is lots of free training content available online, there are very few training courses available free online.
A training course is a series of lessons, arranged in a consistent format, that provide students with a structured pathway towards a series of well-defined learning outcomes.
Contrast this with the materials that are available free online.
Firstly these free materials are not arranged in a consistent format. Online tutors use different techniques to present Accounting information. Some tutors prefer a tabular approach while other tutors prefer T accounts etc. Different language and terms can be used by different tutors. This mix of formats and language can be confusing for students who are trying to master the basics of a topic for the first time.
Secondly, materials that are available free online are not structured. Structured training course materials are arranged in a logical order that helps students build on prior knowledge. Materials that are not structured risk undermining student confidence by presenting topics that the student is not yet adequately prepared for.
Finally all exams test a student’s ability with respect to a series of well-defined learning outcomes. A well designed training course provides course content that is targeted on these learning outcomes and avoids providing content that is not relevant to the learning outcomes. Much of the free materials available online are not linked to specific learning outcomes and, consequently, students can waste a lot of valuable preparation time studying materials that will not appear on the exam.
So, just because the student can access free online training content does not mean that the student is benefiting from a free online training course !!